Best Small Breed Dog Food of 2021: Complete Reviews With Comparisons

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To keep our little furry friends energetic, playful, and sweet, we must ensure that they are getting the healthiest diet available.

Compared to their larger counterparts, small dogs generally have higher metabolic rates, so they require a high-quality, nutritious diet.

Small dogs need a balanced amount of calories, protein, and fat to be in top shape.

Contrary to popular belief, domesticated dogs are omnivores, meaning they also consume fruits and vegetables.

If you want to provide your furry companion a well-balanced, nutritious food, below are five of the best small breed dog foods that you can consider.

Comparison Chart

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Taste of the Wild Appalachian Valley Small Breed Canine Recipe
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Merrick Classic Healthy Grains Dry Dog Food Small Breed Recipe
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Hill’s Science Diet Adult Small & Toy Breed Dry Dog Food
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Royal Canin Small Puppy Dry Dog Food
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Wholesome Essentials Natural Adult Dry Dog Food for Small & Toy Breeds

Best Small Breed Dog Food Reviews

1. Taste of the Wild Appalachian Valley Small Breed Canine Recipe

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The company Taste of the Wild offers quality, affordable cat and dog food products rich in protein sources.

High Prairie features a mix of roasted bison and venison that provides highly digestible nutrients for your small breed dogs.

Product Highlights

Your adorable companion will crave the pasture-raised roasted bison and venison, which features easy-to-digest proteins with an enticing flavor.

With the small kibble size of the Appalachian Valley, consuming and chewing it would be easy for small dogs.

It also exhibits species-specific probiotics specially developed to deliver 80 million active cultures.

The K9 Strain probiotics are added after the food is cooked, which ensures viability.

Packed with antioxidants, this dog food from Taste of the Wild includes essential ingredients from various fruits and vegetables.

Guaranteed selenium levels, zinc, and vitamin E are also embedded into the dog food, which helps boost your pet’s immune system.

The included DHA omega-3 fatty acid from salmon oil is vital to your small dog’s brain and vision development.

Made without corn, grains, wheat, or artificial flavors, the Taste of the Wild Appalachian Valley Small Breed Canine Recipe offers no components that may not be helpful in the vitality of your small dog.

While the ingredients are outsourced locally and overseas, the dog food is made and developed in the USA by a family-owned company.

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The Good

This Taste of the Wild dog food’s most prominent ingredient is protein meat.

It makes up 32% of its overall components to ensure strong bones and muscles.

The proprietary probiotics included in its ingredients help in boosting your small dog’s immune system.

The Bad

Despite the dense amount of nutrients found in the Appalachian Valley Recipe, some of them, such as the omega-6 fatty acids and taurine, are not recognized as essential to a dog’s well-being.

As per AAFCO or the Association of American Feed Control Officials, this dog food formula is recommended for adults, not for all life stages.


  • Multiple sizes available
  • Great package illustration
  • AAFCO certified


  • Pricier than others
  • Possible overpowering smell

2. Merrick Classic Healthy Grains Small Breed Recipe

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Merrick has offered quality nutrition to their dog and cat food products since 1988.

The Classic Healthy Grains Small Breed Recipe is one of their small breed dog food offerings containing several essential nutrients.

Product Highlights

Featuring deboned chicken meat as its primary ingredient, the Healthy Grains Small Breed Recipe promises several health benefits like solid and resilient muscles to your furry little friend.

Nutrients such as omega fatty acids, glucosamine, and chondroitin present in the formula.

They are responsible for maintaining your small dog’s vitality to an optimal level.

Free from grains such as potato, corn, and soy, it instead exhibits a unique mix of ancient grains like quinoa that allows optimal digestion.

The Classic Healthy Grains Small Breed Recipe contains real whole food.

That includes apples, carrots, and blueberries, with no preservatives to ensure high-level nutritional content.

All products from Merrick are crafted in Hereford, TX, and cooked locally, ensuring quality and safety. 

The Good

With the blend of nutrients, this dog food offers various health benefits to multiple parts of your dog’s body, such as their hips, joints, skin, and coat.

According to its manufacturer, the Merrick Classic Healthy Grains Small Breed Recipe is made of all-natural ingredients, translating to a safe and healthy food product.

The Bad

While the Classic Healthy Grains Small Breed Recipe is free from numerous grains, some may not appreciate that this recipe is not pea-free.

Probiotics are also not included in its ingredients, which could be a deterrent for some.


  • AAFCO approved
  • Dye-free recipe
  • Natural flavor


  • Inconsistent packaging closure
  • Limited size options

3. Hill’s Science Diet Adult Small Paws

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Hill’s pet foods meet and exceed the guidelines of AAFCO and WSAVA (World Small Animal Veterinary Association).

They are the results of an evidence-based approach to formulating its recipes.

Among their offerings is the Hill’s Science Diet Adult Small Paws.

It’s a dry dog food tailored for small dogs’ distinct needs during their prime years.

Product Highlights

This Hill’s Science dog food consists of ingredients that are easy to digest and good for the heart.

The dog food also features nutrients, such as vitamin E and omega-6 fatty acids, that help make your small dog bear healthy skin and a fantastic coat.

It also contains high-quality proteins from various meat sources such as chicken and pork for lean and strong muscles.

This item has a blend of unique antioxidants to provide lasting immune support for your small dog.

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The Good

Compared to other dog foods from this list, you can choose from two flavors, chicken or lamb and rice.

Purchasing the Hill’s Science Diet Adult Small Paws helps in providing food for more than 100,000 homeless pets all year round.

The Bad

Some may find that the Hill’s Science Diet Adult Small Paws has a greasy texture due to the number of topical ingredients used.

Also, if your small dog suffers from a corn allergy, it is not the best choice since it contains whole grain corn.


  • No synthetic colors
  • Natural ingredients
  • Affordable


  • Possible unpleasant smell
  • Incomplete nutrient information

4. Royal Canin Small Puppy Dry Dog Food

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The company Royal Canin has been in the business of making dog and cat products since 1968.

One of their releases, the Small Puppy Dry Dog Food, is made specifically for small puppies up to 10 months old.

Product Highlights

With the precise, balanced nutrients that this dog food has, it provides the high energy needs of your small puppies during their intense, short growth stage.

Its exclusive blend of various antioxidants and vitamins establishes high-level support for the immune system.

The Royal Canin Small Puppy Dry Dog Food also contains prebiotics and highly digestible proteins that promote healthy digestion to your cute companions.

It also features an adaptable kibble, which exhibits a savory aroma and satisfying texture.

The Good

Chelated minerals attached to protein helps in absorbing nutrients, and fortunately, the Royal Canin Small Puppy Dry Dog Food has them.

This puppy dog food also has a concentration of nutrients and texture. This quality gives a brushing effect that may contribute to increased appetite.

The Bad

No probiotics are included in the components of this dog food, which is beneficial in maintaining a healthy, functioning digestive system.

The inclusion of beet pulp on its components could be a deterrent for some since they see it as a cheap filler instead of a factor in excellent intestinal health.


  • AAFCO approved
  • Low odor
  • High-quality ingredients


  • Not budget-friendly
  • Unimpressive packaging

5. NUTRO WHOLESOME ESSENTIALS Small Breed Adult Natural Dry Dog Food

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Like the other companies on this list, NUTRO offers various consumable products for both cats and dogs.

Their Small Breed Adult Natural Dry Dog Food is formulated with high-quality components that are essential for your dog’s health.

Product Highlights

Farm-raised chicken is the prominent protein source of this dog food, which is rich in nutrients and full of natural flavor.

To promote optimal digestion to your small dogs, the NUTRO WHOLESOME ESSENTIALS Small Breed Adult Natural Dry Dog Food is packed with natural fiber.

The included fatty acids such as omega-3 and -6 are vital in having healthy skin and a shiny coat.

While the ingredients may come from overseas, cooking is done in the company’s USA facilities.

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The Good

The Natural Dry Dog Food does not include chicken by-product meals, which is not ideal for any good dog food recipes.

Its lack of artificial flavors will also help make your small dog find it more enticing than other dog foods.

The Bad

There are no prebiotics and probiotics included in the Natural Dry Dog Food’s formula, which help maintain a healthy digestive system.


  • Non-GMO ingredients
  • Nutrient-dense recipe
  • Multiple sizes available


  • Expensive

Buyer’s Guide

Seeing your little furry companion ready to play every time is something you always want.

Not only does it relieve your stress from work or school, but your dog also helps in keeping you fit and active because of their contagious energy.

Like humans, proper diet plays a vital role in maintaining the active demeanor of your small dog.

That’s why feeding them the right dog food matters.

Let’s look at different factors that help identify the best small breed dog food for your cute, diminutive canine.

Canned or Dry

Before we decide on which is the better choice, let’s check out what the properties of canned and dry dog food are:

  • Water Content

Canned dog food has a significant moisture content compared to dry ones.

On average, dry dog food has only about three to 12% moisture, while canned variants range between 60% and 84%.

  • Calorie Content

Generally, dry dog food is more packed with calories than canned.

Dogs need to eat at least double to triple the amount of wet food to match the calorie content that a single amount of dry food has.

  • Price

Factors such as packaging and shelf-life make dry dog food cheaper than canned dog food.

The production costs of manufacturing containers and liquid processing components make the wet dog food’s price tag significantly higher.

  • Taste

More often than not, your small breed dog will opt for wet food because it exhibits better smell and taste.

On the contrary, it is relatively common that canines don’t like dry food because of the lack of qualities mentioned above.


While dogs are omnivores, their preferred choice of food is meat.

However, don’t try to give your pet an all-meat diet since it may cause health problems in the long run.

Like us, a balanced diet is essential in making sure that your dog will have a long, active life.

A common mistake for dog owners is sharing their food with them, which is a big no-no because we have different nutritional needs compared to canines.

Regarding commercial dog food, these products have ingredients beneficial to them, but not all ingredients are considered essential, and some components may even cause health hazards.

That is why it is crucial to check the product label and research as much as possible to avoid ingredients that are not recommended for your small dog.

Better yet, ask for a professional opinion if you are uncertain about some of the contents.

Kibble Size

Dry dog food comes in varying sizes to accommodate the different sizes of dogs.

For example, a great dane will struggle to eat a tiny kibble compared to a dachshund.

You also need to be aware that adjusting the kibble size of your small dog is essential.

Growing puppies need a smaller kibble because they require the easy-to-break-down size to support their developing body.

Adult small dogs are suited to have a slightly larger kibble because they can chew food into smaller bits while helping them decrease plaque buildup due to strenuous teeth activity.

Once your small breed dog gets older, its digestion could not be the same as it once was.

As such, you may have to return to giving it a smaller-sized kibble to accommodate such a state and avoid some dental issues.

Nutritional Adequacy

Listed below are some nutritional components that are crucial to keeping your dog at its peak condition.

  • Proteins

Like most animals on earth, proteins are the building blocks of your dog’s body.

This nutrient is responsible for the growth, repair, and maintenance of the organs and tissues.

Getting high protein content from chicken, beef, venison, and other sources is crucial if you want your dog to grow and develop.

  • Fats

You cannot exclude fats in your dog’s diet if you want it to be always up and ready for interactions. As the primary source of a canine’s energy, fats are essential as they grow, not to mention that it helps vitamins get absorbed.

Fortunately, most, if not all dog foods have such nutrients that help ensure your little friend gets the recommended amount.

  • Carbohydrates

Small breed dogs are known to be very playful and energetic.

But their high level of activity is sustainable as long as your dog gets a balanced amount of carbs and fat.

Not only limited to energy, but carbs in the form of fiber also help regulate your canine’s bowel movement.

Most grains offer this nutrient, such as apples, brown rice, berries, and corn.

  • Vitamins

To help keep your dog’s metabolic rate, muscle strength, and growth rate to optimal levels, it needs a good dose of vitamins.

Vitamin A helps in promoting a healthy liver, skin, and hair. This nutrient is present in fish and vegetable oil, liver, and dairy products.

Vitamin D is responsible for regulating phosphorus and calcium, which are vital components in your pet’s bloodstream.

You can find this nutrient in dairy merchandise and fish meat.

Vitamin E promotes good functioning levels of your small dog’s skeletal muscles, nerves, heart, and liver.

Check your dog food’s ingredients if it has plant oils included, as it provides a good amount of vitamin E.

  • Minerals

Your dog needs a good variety of minerals to ensure that it has sufficient support in maintaining homeostasis and fluid balance.

If you want to keep your companion’s bones and teeth strong, minerals such as calcium, sodium, phosphorus, chloride, iron, potassium, and others should be present in your dog’s food.

Flavor Options

Usually, dog foods are categorized by their featured meat or protein source.

For small breed canines, the most common flavor is chicken, followed by beef, lamb, fish, and venison.

Regarding which flavor your dog will favor, there is no sure way to determine it other than letting your furry friend taste each available option and see how it reacts.

Some dogs are picky eaters, which causes owners to purchase multiple products until they find the one that their pets like to consume.

Small Breed Dog Food Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is Wet or Dry Food Better for Dogs?

There is no one-word answer to this question since both of them provide a different set of advantages.

Wet dog food has hydration features with a taste and a smell that dry food does not have.

On the other hand, dry food tends to have more high energy content and dental benefits.

However, the list of components of the food is more important than its form.

The nutritional value should be the main reason in choosing because each dog has a unique set of needs.

2. How Is Small Breed Dog Food Different?

Small breed dogs require higher calories per pound and smaller kibbles than their larger counterparts.

Hence, the dog food for small breed adults should contain a blend of fat and carbs to match their level of activity and metabolic rate.

3. Do Small Dogs Need Small Breed Food?

As mentioned above, small dogs have a high metabolic rate.

Their small stomachs could only accommodate so much, so they need to consume nutrient-dense food.

Many owners are making the mistake of giving their pets too much food to address their high metabolism, leading to obesity and other health issues.

It is recommended to feed your small dogs with small breed products because the small kibble size makes it easier for them to bite and digest the food.

4. How Can I Tell if My Dog Is allergic To His Food?

Similar to us, our pets are prone to have allergies due to various factors.

The most common types of allergies are skin, food, and environmental.

There are numerous symptoms that you can notice immediately, such as:

  • Itchiness
  • Diarrhea
  • Swelling
  • Sneezing
  • Vomiting

While these symptoms are fairly easy to notice, consulting a veterinarian to confirm your pet’s condition should also be strongly considered.

5. Is Grain-Free Formula Bad for Dogs?

Many owners believe that grains included in their dog food are not essential, often referred to as fillers.

They usually come in the form of corn, wheat, rice, or oat.

There are debates in regards to the grains on dogs’ diet.

Some argue that it is not part of their original diet, so they deem it unnecessary.

Others pointed out that your domesticated pets’ ancestors are inadvertently consuming grains because of their herbivore prey.

Grains are an excellent source of carbs and fiber. They are beneficial in promoting digestive health while supplying amounts of energy.

To sum it up, you should only avoid grains if your dog is suffering from a grain allergy.

Better yet, before jumping to conclusions if you’ll go grain-free or not, ask a veterinarian because they will conduct tests for proper and educated assessment.

Best Small Breed Dog Food: The Conclusion

Considering attributes such as nutritional content, packaging, and quality of ingredients, we have picked the TOTW’s Appalachian Valley Small Breed Canine Recipe.

Compared to other entries, it is packed with the most nutrients that are vital in ensuring the needs of your small breed dogs.

The high protein content allows your pet to be as strong and prolific as it wants to be.

It is the only dog food on this list that features prebiotics and probiotics, which help promote a healthy digestive system.

You would think that all of those qualities plus using venison meat should make it the most expensive, but surprisingly, it is not.

On top of that, the Appalachian Valley Small Breed Canine Recipe packaging, from illustration to closure, appears to be superior to the others.

It also shares some good qualities with the other entries, such as no artificial coloring, no preservatives, and AAFCO-approved.

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